2015-09-09 Consumer Protection Act doesn’t apply to smart meters or the bases!!

 

  • Attached is an announcement that the BCUC is asking for input    [ http://bcuc.com/Documents/MiscDocs/2015/09-08-2015_BCUC_StakeholderConsultationRequest.pdf] regarding the timeliness of their responses, etc. They are asking for responses from those who have been interveners in applications such as the legacy fee review or the FortisBC Smart meter hearing. There seems to be no interest in asking about the accuracy of the information reviewed by the BCUC, any follow-through on the decisions made, such as the legacy fees (what is happening with the $4 million in fees each year received from every 10,000 legacy customers?   Are they needed? What additional services are being provided?). Neither are they asking for comments about how they are performing their duties, e.g. ensuring the products used by utility companies are safe. I think we deserve to have answers to these questions. Aren’t these more important than whether time standards are being met?

 

  • Below in the Letters section are many emails to and from the Consumer Product Safety Department in Ottawa regarding the meter base which we own and which resides on our homes.   Please read from the bottom up for my first email, dated Sept. 1. I do not believe that the response given makes sense, that the meters are not consumer products and therefore are not regulated. How can one electrical device be outside the Product Safety Act because Parliament does not wish to regulate homes, yet every other electrical device in and on our homes is regulated. Mr. Smith has shown more interest and concern than anyone so far, but can offer no help from the Consumer Protection Agency.  I am hoping some technical members can review the Electrical Code to which Mr. Smith refers.   If there are any members knowledgeable about electricity who would like to read and provide comments about the Electrical Code, please let me know.  More and more it is evident that we have been abandoned by all the governmental agencies and are on our own.

 

It seems that the laws, including the Consumer Protection Act, were written without considering that an electrical device like the smart meter could be put on our homes. It is high time for us to demand that the laws be revised to provide protection from something that puts lives and property at risk. Just because it’s the law doesn’t mean it’s right or immutable. Circumstances have changed and the laws must be changed, too.

 

 

  • For those of a technical nature, a picture of the future where energy companies like BC Hydro will be irrelevant.

The energy companies of today need to change otherwise they will be out of business. I don’t see them thinking like this today. Traditional energy companies are already puzzled by the developments in renewables.

The energy sector will develop outside of energy companies. For example, the smart meter you mentioned, such a development will be surpassed by the Internet of Things. Every appliance will be able to measure its own energy consumption. Let’s take a fridge company – it will lease a fridge to you, including the electricity for it. The company then has a million fridges all over Europe and goes to trade on the electricity market. When there is an excess of electricity it turns the fridges up – so they cool a bit more – and when there is less, it turns them down and consumes less (then the price is also high). It’s nothing to do with energy companies anymore.

http://cleantechnica.com/2015/09/07/energy-sector-will-develop-outside-of-energy-companies-says-ad-van-wijk/

  • People  in Oklahoma  are seeing  huge increases in bills  after getting “smart metered”.

http://www.newson6.com/story/29986019/utility-bills-higher-than-mortgage-payments-claremore-residents-say

 

 

  • Collectors:

Salt Spring Island on Elizabeth Drive. No address is available, and the Google Earth is from 2012 and shows no collector in the area. If anyone is driving by and can take a photo to send me, I would appreciate it.

Some collectors have something additional added to them. One is on a collector north of Hope: http://emrabc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/satelite.jpg

If anyone sees one and can take a close look with a zoom lens, we need to find out who makes this and anything else (model, etc.) so we can try to figure out what it does.

Victoria, 4816 Cordova Bay Rd.  http://emrabc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/CordovaBay.jpg

**************************

 

Letters:

From: Richard J Smith [mailto:richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca]
Sent: September 8, 2015 10:51 AM
To: Sharon Noble
Subject: RE: Inquiry re. safety of consumer product

Dear Sharon: As I understand it the base would not be a consumer product when it is supplied to the home owner at the time the house is built . Parliament clarified that it was not the intent of the law to regulate homes. Hence it does not cover the meter bases at the time of construction. The CCPSA does not act retroactively . This means that the law does not apply to anything prior to June of 2012.

IF meter bases were sold to  the public directly thru a retail sore after  June of 2012 THEN those meters would likely fall under the CCPSA.

Again I must emphasise that  there is no federal law that deals with the vast bulk of homes in BC,,,, outside of the Building code.

IF these meters are causing significant numbers of fires then that will come to the attention of the insurance companies and they will force the issue with the BC Electrical Safety Authority.

Please consider submitting your information on our incident reporting form at the link I sent you previously .  Please only include factual information . Opinion , hearsay , rumour etc will only serve to weaken your case.

The radiation that is emitted from the meters has been assessed and found to be safe by the Radiation Emitting Devices Bureau . Any electrical hazard will be assessed if and only if the meter bases are found to be consumer products sold after June 2012 directly to consumers.

Yours

Richard Smith
Health Canada
Product Safety  Officer
604 666 5788

===

From: Sharon Noble
To: “‘Richard J Smith'” <richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca>
Date: 2015-09-02 8:14 PM
Subject: RE: Inquiry re. safety of consumer product

Dear Richard,

I agree and understand fully that the meter is not covered by the law since it is Hydro’s equipment, but does the same argument apply to the meter base? They do not supply the meter base and it is owned by the home owner. The homeowner buys the meter base from the electrician when the home is built. Can you please confirm that the base is not covered by the Consumer Protection Act? This is an important item to that needs to be clarified.

BC Hydro workers have told me that new homes do have new meter bases which may have been certified in conjunction with the smart meter. But what about the vast majority of homes which still have the older meter base? Is there no law that protects them?

Unfortunately in BC the head of the fire chiefs’ association has been co-opted, and has denied that there has been any incidents involving smart meters. The firemen as a consequence are hesitant to speak out and some have told me there would be serious ramifications if they did.

I will follow you suggestion and prepare an incident report or reports. It certainly can’t hurt – no other avenue seems available which is quite confusing and concerning to me.

When the various laws were written that say that equipment owned by a utility company are not subject to consumer protection laws I suspect that there was no thought that some of this equipment might be on homes. Until the smart meter, all utility equipment was some distance from any residence so that if it malfunctioned, no life or property would be endangered immediately.  The laws are, therefore, in need of updating because, unless the meter base is considered a consumer product, there is no law (other than perhaps the federal electrical code) that provides any protection for the public.

Thank you again for your concern and suggestions.

Regards,
Sharon

===

From: Richard J Smith [mailto:richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca]
Sent: September 2, 2015 5:06 PM
To: Sharon Noble
Subject: RE: Inquiry re. safety of consumer product

BC hydro is a commercial body and although they supply the  meter to your house it is not a retail item , not covered by our law.

I suspect that the utility commission law does not bypass the building code. If the base has  it’s certification in conjunction with the meter  It may be that the use of a non certified meter voids the certification . If that is the case it may be that the building code is violated when a non compatible base is supplied in  a new home . I think the govt is vulnerable for new homes where the building/ electrical inspector has to pass all of the wiring in the  house . I suspect that this includes the base. Again finding a section of the code that mandates the safe installation would likely force the issue .

Another avenue is to work thru the fire chiefs to apply pressure on the electrical safety commission.

I am almost certain that our law will not apply.

BUT if you submit an incident report with all of your documentation and rationale of the sale of certified bases that are incompatible with the meters you may get somewhere.

Get the fire chiefs on board

Yours

Richard Smith
Health Canada
Product Safety  Officer
604 666 5788

===

From: Sharon Noble
To: “‘Richard J Smith'” <richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca>
Date: 2015-09-02 11:57 AM
Subject: RE: Inquiry re. safety of consumer product

Dear Richard,

I so appreciate your response and suggestions.

The smart meters are not CSA approved. The utility companies (in BC that is BC Hydro and FortisBC) are exempted from having “their equipment” certified safe on the basis that an electrical engineer certifies them safe, but this hasn’t been done either. BC Hydro says they don’t have to, that because the meters fall into some special category, they don’t have to be certified.

You are correct that the base, which is certified, is probably no longer considered certified since it is being used with a non-certified meter. The analog was not certified by itself but as I’ve been told it was part of the certification process when the base was tested.

In BC the government passed the Clean Energy Act in 2010 in which smart meter program was authorized. The Act removes any oversight by the BC Utilities Commission, which is the regulatory body responsible for ensuring public safety with regards to any actions or products used by the utility companies. I have not checked the Electric Code to see if it would pertain but so far every law or regulation that seems applicable has been overruled by the government.

As an example, under the Fire Safety Standards Act nothing is to be removed from fire scenese before the fire inspector has been able to do his job and gives approval. But BC Hydro is removing smart meters from the scene without approval, and the fire commissioner has told me that they can do this because it is their equipment. Firefighters in Quebec have complained publicly that the same thing is happening there.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-city-firefighters-ask-hydro-qu%C3%A9bec-to-leave-smart-meters-alone-1.2983309

Sort of civil action by individuals, which will necessitate hiring of lawyers and will result in a long, expensive battle, is there no consumer protection act that would be applicable?

The Consumer Product Safety Act of 2010, S.C. 2010, c. 21 seems to be directly applicable to smart meters:

The Act:

  • prohibits the manufacture, importation, advertisement or sale of any consumer products that pose an unreasonable danger to human health or safety;  Hydro imports smart meters from the US
  • requires industry to report serious incidents or deaths related to a consumer product and to provide the government with information about product safety issues;
  • requires manufacturers or importers to provide test/study results on products when asked;  The laws of BC require testing and certification to BC standards done by an electrical engineer licensed by BC. BC Hydro has said no such testing or certification has been done.
  • allows Canada’s minister of health to order recalls of consumer products; and
  • imposes significant fines and penalties for non-compliance with the Act.

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that a lack of full scientific certainty is not to be used as a reason for postponing measures that prevent adverse effects on human health if those effects could be serious or irreversible;
“danger to human health or safety”
 means any unreasonable hazard — existing or potential — that is posed by a consumer product during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health — including an injury — whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic adverse effect on human health.

“consumer product”
 means a product, including its components, parts or accessories, that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging

Could this not apply to smart meters? They are not being sold to us and are being used for domestic purposes.

  1. No person shall package or label a consumer product
  • (a) in a manner — including one that is false, misleading or deceptive — that may reasonably be expected to create an erroneous impression regarding the fact that it is not a danger to human health or safety; or
  • (b) in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive regarding its certification related to its safety or its compliance with a safety standard or the regulations.

(1) In this section, “incident” means, with respect to a consumer product,
o    (a) an occurrence in Canada or elsewhere that resulted or may reasonably have been expected to result in an individual’s death or in serious adverse effects on their health, including a serious injury;

o    (b) a defect or characteristic that may reasonably be expected to result in an individual’s death or in serious adverse effects on their health, including a serious injury;

o    (c) incorrect or insufficient information on a label or in instructions — or the lack of a label or instructions — that may reasonably be expected to result in an individual’s death or in serious adverse effects on their health, including a serious injury;
1) If, on the application of the Minister, it appears to a court of competent jurisdiction that a person has done or is about to do or is likely to do an act or thing that constitutes or is directed toward the commission of an offence under this Act, the court may issue an injunction ordering the person who is named in the application to
o    (a) refrain from doing an act or thing that it appears to the court may constitute or be directed toward the commission of an offence under this Act; or

o    (b) do an act or thing that it appears to the court may prevent the commission of an offence under this Act.


Canada Consumer Product Safety Act
S.C. 2010, c. 21

Assented to 2010-12-15

An Act respecting the safety of consumer products

Preamble

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes the objective of protecting the public by addressing dangers to human health or safety that are posed by consumer products;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that the growing number of consumer products that flow across the borders of an increasingly global marketplace make the realization of that objective a challenge;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that along with the Government of Canada, individuals and suppliers of consumer products have an important role to play in addressing dangers to human health or safety that are posed by consumer products;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada wishes to foster cooperation within the Government of Canada, between the governments in this country and with foreign governments and international organizations, in particular by sharing information, in order to effectively address those dangers;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that, given the impact activities with respect to consumer products may have on the environment, there is a need to create a regulatory system regarding consumer products that is complementary to the regulatory system regarding the environment;

Whereas the Parliament of Canada recognizes that a lack of full scientific certainty is not to be used as a reason for postponing measures that prevent adverse effects on human health if those effects could be serious or irreversible

Richard, isn’t the Consumer Product Safety Department the one that would enforce this act?

Your concern is most appreciated, and I do thank you for any help you can provide.

Regards,

Sharon

===

From: Sharon Noble
To: <richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca>
Date: 2015-09-01 8:36 PM
Subject: Inquiry re. safety of consumer product

Dear Mr. Smith,

Thank you so much for your prompt reply.

This is a complex situation because I have many reports of incidents concerning many individual homes involving the meter and the meter base, received from various sources: BC Hydro, BC Safety Authority, the Provincial Fire Commissioner and from victims. As well there is testimony in a legal brief that confirms that the ITRON smart meter, the model being used in BC, does not fit correctly into the meter base which had held the analog. The brief is available at  http://www.stopsmartmetersbc.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Reed_Answering_Brief-1.pdf

I and many others have written many letters to the BC Energy Minister, BC Hydro, ITRON, BC Safety Authority, and the BC Utilities Commission about the fire hazard posed by the compromise of the meter base, but none of us has received any response beyond form letters saying the meters are safe. My most recent letter to the BC Energy Minister included the information attached, plus a copy of the legal brief. It was sent via registered mail and copied to every MLA on June 25, 2015 and received not even an acknowledgement.

Because of this complexity, I don’t know how to complete the forms for the risk evaluators. I am attaching photos of a few of the incidents and a fire report to give you some idea of what has been occurring in British Columbia. Can you please advise me how to provide this information on the forms?

The meter base was CSA certified (as is required for a consumer product) to hold the analog, but it has never been certified to hold the smart meter.  The BC Safety Authority has told me that it has been instructed by the provincial government that it has no authority over the smart meters or any aspect of the program, which leaves the general public in a quandary. I don’t believe there is any doubt that these devices are not safe, have not met any of the regulatory requirements that are normal for electrical devices that are put on or in a home, and are being installed into a meter base that was never intended to home them.

The question is: what agency is responsible for safeguarding the public? Certainly, since the meter bases are owned by the individual and are used on/in the individual’s home, they qualify as a consumer product and should be required to meet the standards that any other electrical appliance, e.g. a toaster or a microwave oven, would have to meet.

I would be happy to complete any complaint form that allows me to provide the type of information I have or to provide more information to any agency.

I represent many 1000s of people in BC who have joined together in a Coalition to express their concerns about these meters. I/we truly appreciate your taking a serious interest in this matter.

Sincerely,
Sharon Noble

===

From: Richard J Smith [mailto:richard.j.smith@hc-sc.gc.ca]
Sent: September 1, 2015 2:54 PM
To: Sharon Noble
Subject: Fw: Inquiry re. Safety of consumer product

From: Richard J Smith/HC-SC/GC/CA
To: Bby Prodsafe/HC-SC/GC/CA@HWC
Cc: Karen Pollesel/HC-SC/GC/CA@HWC
Date: 2015-09-01 2:28 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Inquiry re. Safety of consumer product

Dear Ms Nobel : you pose an interesting question ; does the meter base come under the jurisdiction of the Canada Consumer  Product Safety Act and regulations. ( CCPSA)?

As I understand it:Any electrical product that is sold to the consumer directly can normally be considered to be under the regulations .  Homes have been determined to be outside of the scope of the regulations.  Also any product installed  thru a contractor is considered outside of the CCPSA.

Since the regulations came into force in 2012  any products sold prior to then are not  under the CCPSA . There was no similar  federal law before that date.

SO …. if meter bases are  available thru the likes of Home Depot   then those sold at retail since June of 2012  are likely covered under the CCPSA.

The portion of the CCPSA that covers electrical is a general safety provision that boils down to ” you can not sell  anything that presents an unreasonable level of risk “.This means that each case must be  evaluated on it’s own merits to see if the law is broken and then to assess how bad is the risk.

For your concern to be evaluated you must submit an “incident  report “. I have copied the link below . Please supply all the support information  you have to enable the Ottawa risk evaluators to determine  the risk and to see if the meter bases are covered by the ccpsa.

As I understand it :The BC Safety Authority regulates the sale of electrical goods Provincially . It can not regulate the misuse of the goods unless it is covered by the building code at the time of inspection.

This is the current site link :
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/advisories-avis/incident/index-eng.php

Yours
Richard Smith

Health Canada
Product Safety  Officer
604 666 5788

===

From: Bby Prodsafe/HC-SC/GC/CA
To: Richard J Smith/HC-SC/GC/CA@HWC
Date: 2015-09-01 10:48 AM
Subject: Fw: Inquiry re. Safety of consumer product
Sent by: Jenny Macleod

===

From: CPS-SPC/HC-SC/GC/CA
To: Bby Prodsafe/HC-SC/GC/CA@HWC
Date: 2015-09-01 06:49 AM
Subject: Fw: Inquiry re. Safety of consumer product
Sent by: Karen Pollesel

Good morning

Please see below an enquiry for your response.

Thank you

Karen
Consumer Product Safety Directorate /Healthy Environments and Community Safety Branch
Health Canada/ Government of Canada
cps-spc@hc-sc.gc.ca

Direction de la sécurité des produits de consommation/Direction générale de la santé environnementale et de la sécurité des consommateursSanté Canada / Gouvernement du Canadacps-spc@hc-sc.gc.ca

—– Forwarded by Karen Pollesel/HC-SC/GC/CA on 2015-09-01 09:47 AM —–

From: Sharon Noble
To: CPS-SPC/HC-SC/GC/CA@HWC
Date: 2015-09-01 09:35 AM
Subject: Fw: Inquiry re. Safety of consumer product
Sent by: Karen Pollesel

Dear Sir or Madam,

I would like to know if safety of an electrical device is within your jurisdiction.

Specifically the electricity meter base, which is owned by the homeowner, is being used in a manner for which it was not designed. A potential risk for fire exists when a device is inserted into the base for which it was not designed, tested, or certified to hold.

The meter base on homes was designed in conjunction with the analog meter, and was certified to hold it and nothing else. I have obtained legal testimony concerning the ITRON smart meter, the very same model used by utility companies in BC, stating that the smart meter’s blades are thinner than the analog’s, leaving a gap which causes arcing and fires.

I have raised concerns with the BC Utilities Commission and the BC Safety Authority, but I have been told that the government’s Clean Energy Act precludes them from taking action. even to investigate this hazard.  Overheated, melted and burned meters have occurred in BC – I have evidence to substantiate this assertion should you wish to see it.

I realize that the smart meters, being owned by the utilities,  are not consumer products and, therefore, do not fall under the Consumer Protection Act. The meter bases are owned by the homeowner and, therefore, are consumer products. Would you please tell me if you have authority to investigate the abuse of this product and the safety of doing so.  If you do not, please tell me what agency would.

Thank you for your time and assistance.

Sincerely,
Sharon Noble
Victoria, BC

(See attached file: image1small.JPG)(See attached file: image3small.JPG)(See attached file: 2c.jpg)(See attached file: 3595 Triumph IMG_2901.jpg)(See attached file: IMG_2781 (2).jpg)(See attached file: IMG_2777 (00000002).jpg)(See attached file: IMG_2774.jpg)(See attached file: photo 2 (00000002).jpg)(See attached file: photo 3 (00000002).jpg)(See attached file: FOI #2014-188 Sharon Noble Acknowledgement and Final Letter.pdf)

These were photos of melted, burned meters that I’ve share several times. I have not included them again due to space.

***********************************

Newsletter prepared by Sharon Noble

“An activist is someone who cannot help but fight for something. That person is not usually motivated by a need for power, or money, or fame, but in fact driven slightly mad by some injustice, some cruelty, some unfairness – So much so that he or she is compelled by some moral engine to act to make it better.”- Eve Ensler